Rams sack Jeff Fisher

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In a statement sent to the media earlier today, the Los Angeles Rams announced they had fired head coach Jeff Fisher. The message said they chose to “part ways” with Fisher, who had become controversial in a season that was spotlighted by the move from St. Louis, MO, back to Los Angeles, and then the huge price paid to get the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, which brought quarterback Jared Goff to the Rams, and then the HBO show, “Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Los Angeles Rams.”

Rams G.M. Les Snead and former Head Coach
Jeff Fisher at practice on December 9
The high profile of the organization made its record, which now stands at 4-9, a big issue with the NFL audience. For weeks Rams fans have been grumbling and even demanding Fisher either step down or be fired. Last week it was reported Fisher and general manager Les Snead were embroiled in a feud, which Fisher denied in post-practice press conferences.

On December 9 he told the media, “Les and I have been on the same page since day one. We communicate all the time, we work together, we make decisions together and I don’t know where it’s coming from – I’ll find out.” Adding, “… there are no issues between Les and I — by no means. We agree to disagree and we’ve had a fun run, but we’re certainly disappointed – as I said on Tuesday – in the outcome and where we are. We’ve got work to do, but we’re doing it together.”

Before that Fisher got into a very public feud with former Rams running back — and Hall-of-Famer — Eric Dickerson over field access after Dickerson had been very critical of Jeff Fisher and the direction the team was headed in this season.

On Sunday (December 11) the Rams lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 42-14, in a game that, on paper, showed the Rams should at least be competitive with the Falcons. Los Angeles didn’t score any points until the fourth quarter when running back Todd Gurley scored on a three-yard run. Goff ran for a second TD later in the quarter. After the game Fisher once again told the media he and Snead were fine. For the outcome of the game, the coach said, “I feel responsible for this.”

Goff’s performance on Sunday: he was 24 for 41, for 235 yards with one rushing TD, two interceptions and one fumble. He is 0-4 as the starting QB.

Things at the Rams training facility, located at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, changed as of this morning. At a press conference held today (Monday) the Rams told the media Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel (son of N.Y. Giants head coach Jim Fassel) would be the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. It is Fassel’s special teams that have stood out this season, with punter Johnny Hekker breaking or matching records this season. Hacker has had two punts of 75 yards or more in two consecutive weeks and he leads the NFL in punts downed within the 20-yard line (46).

The punt coverage is allowing just 3.4 yards per punt return.

The punt return team has done very well, giving the Rams offense great field position all season long. In Fassel’s tenure as the special teams coordinator (starting in 2012) his put return teams have returned four punts for touchdowns, third best in the NFL over that span.

Before coming to the Rams, Fassel was the special teams coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.

Rams starting QB Jared Goff
On the CBS program “Monday QB” former NFL quarterbacks Steve Beuerlein and Trent Green spoke about Fisher’s firing. “I am a Jeff Fisher fan as a head coach. I know that sounds funny and you don’t want to hear it, but I have always respected him and the way that he has dealt with us, especially in the media,” Beuerlein said, adding, “I thought he would be a great coach to play for. Given all of that, I believe the time was right. They had to make the move. It was not going anywhere but down. All of the negative energy and focus out there in L.A. is on finding a way to get this organization turned around. And they were making absolutely no progress with it.”

Green said, “I am not surprised by the firing of Jeff Fisher. I am surprised by the timing of the firing of Jeff Fisher … They play Thursday night. It’s a short week … It would have made more sense, if you are going to make this move, to make it after that Thursday game because then whoever you name head coach has plenty of time to get prepared for that next game.”

Thursday the Rams will be in Seattle, WA to play the Seahawks. The Rams beat Seattle earlier this season in a game at the L.A. Coliseum. The final score was 9-3; Case Keenum was the starting QB for the Rams and neither team was able to score a touchdown. Place kicker Greg Zuerlein went 3 for 3 in field goals.

Jeff Fisher became the head coach in 2012. His record with the team is 31-45. He has never coached the Rams to a .500 or better season.

Photos by Claudia Gestro
Top photo: Former Rams head coach Jeff Fisher after Sunday’s loss to the Falcons